Category Archives: casseroles and one pot meals

baked favorites and one pot meals

Spicy Southern Style Stew

Years ago I found a recipe on All Recipes called Sunday Gumbo. I never made it exactly as it was written because I never had the right spices and I didn’t use okra. But it helped guide me when I was venturing out to bigger and better one-pot meals. I have written a recipe all my own but I am not calling it Gumbo or Jambalaya. I’m calling it a stew. Spicy Southern Style Stew… because I don’t want to insult anyone by calling it something it is not.

Spicy Southern Style Stew

Boom! Spicy Southern Style Stew!

Boom! Spicy Southern Style Stew!

  • 1 pound package of sweet Italian sausage links
  • one small sweet onion
  • 2 Cups of chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  •  2 T Ketchup
  •  1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
  •  1/2 tsp cumin
  •  1 tsp red pepper flakes
  •  1 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 small bay leaves or one large leaf
  • 1/2 C uncooked instant brown rice
  • 1 Cup peeled, thawed shrimp

Before you start, if you have frozen shrimp with the shells on, place about 1 cup of shrimp in a single layer on a plate with cool water. It will thaw by the time you need it.

1 pound package of sweet Italian sausage links  cut into bite size pieces and browned in a large cast iron skillet or dutch oven or just a heavy bottomed pan. (You can use hot Italian sausage if you’d like even MORE spice)

Remove the sausage from the pan and drain most of the fat.

Add one small sweet onion, diced, to the pan.

Place sausage back in the pan with the onion and sautee and scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.

Add 2 Cups of chopped cooked chicken and toss around with the sausage and onions. (If your chicken is raw cook it with the sausage and onions. I just happened to have leftover cooked chicken.)

Here comes the flavor:  1 T Worcestershire sauce, 2 T Ketchup, 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves,  1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 tsp garlic powder

stir to coat the chicken, sausage and onions with these flavors

now add 4 cups of chicken stock and 2 small bay leaves or one large leaf

Add 1/2 C uncooked instant brown rice and stir.

cooking the stew BEFORE adding the shrimp

cooking the stew BEFORE adding the shrimp

Turn your attention to the shrimp. If you have cheesecloth you can place the shrimp shells in the cheesecloth and tie it up and place it in the stew. It adds flavor! If you don’t have cheesecloth, it’s no big deal to just skip this step.

shrimp shells in cheese cloth allow the flavor to permeate the stew.

shrimp shells in cheese cloth allow the flavor to permeate the stew.

Add the 1 Cup peeled, thawed shrimp to the stew and push down into the broth to cook. It will only take about 5 minutes.

raw shrimp added

raw shrimp added

It doesn’t take long for the shrimp to turn pink. You don’t want to overcook the shrimp so go. Eat some. Eat some now.

shrimp are done!

shrimp are done!

Remove the cheesecloth and squeeze it out to get all the yummy shrimpy broth out of it. Then put the leftovers in a container and put it in the fridge and eat it again tomorrow. It’ll be even better!!!

Sausage and mixed potatoes

Growing up one of my favorite meals, that my dad always made, was sausage and potatoes. I always thought it was his recipe. I asked him about it recently and he said it was, in fact, my grandmother’s recipe. His mother-in-law, not his mother. My mom’s mom. So cute. She must’ve made it when they were dating or early in their marriage because I remember this meal from early in my childhood. And I remember my dad making it. Anyway, I’ve adapted it to make it a little more wholesome by adding sweet potatoes for fiber and vitamins but that doesn’t mean I’m not still dipping each bite into plain yellow mustard like I’m a ten year old.

Sausage and Mixed Potatoes

(I don’t have a picture of this. It’s potatoes and ground sausage on a plate. Use your imagination.)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

one pound of loose country sausage or sweet Italian sausage links (sausage removed from the casings).

1 large sweet potato cut into bite sized chunks

1 large russet potato cut into bite sized chunks

1 large or 2 medium yukon gold potatoes cut into bite sized chunks

1 medium sweet onion or half a large vidalia onion cut into small pieces (Make the onions smaller than the potatoes. This is a bite that accents the sausage and potatoes, not a giant chunk of onion that gives you the chills kind of bite.)

Spray a 9×13 casserole pan with nonstick spray. Mix the potatoes and onion in the dish. Rip chunks of the sausage and dapple/sprinkle/dollop it around the potatoes and onions. (Forgive me, I can’t think of the right word.)

Place the casserole dish, uncovered, into the oven and bake it until you smell it (isn’t that a song from the 60′s?). Mix the potatoes and sausage mixture around and poke each type of potato (because they are all different in density) and if it slides off the knife, you’re done. If you don’t trust your nose, open the oven and toss the sausage and potatoes after about 30 minutes. Poke a chunk of each type of potato with a sharp knife and if it slides off the knife you are done. If not, close the oven and allow to cook another 15 minutes. It could take up to an hour. You are looking for roasted, fork tender potatoes but not so soft they turn into mashed potatoes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a little bit. Oh and serve with a little childish pile of yellow mustard. Or ketchup… if that’s your thing.




Baked Mac N Cheese with Ham

After the holidays, be it Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Fourth of July, New Year’s Day, I always try to stock up on the foods that were overstocked in the grocery stores. Many times you will spend three dollars a pound for a turkey but after the holidays you might see them for $ .89 a pound! So keep your eye on the ham after Easter and Christmas, the pork after New Year’s, and the beef and chicken after Fourth of July. Also, check the produce after the 4th too. Often those watermelons and cobs of corn are on the ‘not the best but still a good buy’ rack. AND the corn on the cob is usually husked for you when it’s on the day old rack! Woo hoo!

Anyway, my father-in-law came to our house for Thanksgiving. I made a turkey. But he brought a ham that he got for free through his local grocery store and I put it in the freezer. I recently got it out and thawed that bad boy and threw it in a roasting pan with a splash of pinot grigio, honey drizzled over the ham and some dijon mustard brushed on it. (Tightly sealed with foil and baked 15 mins per pound). We ate it hot that night for dinner. We ate it cold for quesadillas the next day. We ate it for breakfast piled high with an over easy egg on an English Muffin. The best part is, I pulled a bunch of the slices off for Josie’s lunches. I make her a real life “lunchamajig”. You know. Those prepackaged plastic trays with crackers and cheese and a cookie and that meat that’s perfectly round but not really identifiable. What is this? Ham? Turkey? One is the same color as the other and it almost looks like sliced hot dogs. Gross. Yeah, momma’s making Josie her own “lunchamajig”. That’s what I’m calling it.

I had a ton of ham left so I picked it all off the bone and chopped up one cup of the salty sweet goodness for the following recipe and put the rest in the freezer for many many more meals to come. Thanks father-in-law for the free ham! Maybe I’ll bring a casserole the next time we visit which includes some of your generous Thanksgiving donation!

Baked mac and cheese with ham

finished mac n cheese w ham

This recipe calls for 1 lb cooked pasta – your choice. I used mini shells. Cook until just under al dente. It will bake for awhile too so don’t over cook it at this time. A pointer: add some chicken bullion to your water before adding the pasta. Or just a tablespoon of salt. It adds so much to the flavor of the pasta if you flavor the water.

drain the pasta and put back in the pot (or in a big bowl) and add:

1 Cup sharp cheddar cheese and 1 Cup of the diced ham and toss to distribute the ham and cheese evenly.

Place the mixture into a greased 9×13 casserole dish.

Top with 1/3 Cup of dried Italian Style breadcrumbs and 1/2 Cup of sharp cheddar cheese

Top that with a couple pats of butter. Slivers of butter distributed over the breadcrumbs helps to brown the topping.

mac and cheese w ham before baking

Top with slivers of butter and drizzle with milk.

Now, pour one cup of milk (I used 2%) gently over the top of the pasta and breadcrumbs. It also helps to make the top moist and helps it crisp up in the oven.

Bake uncovered at 350F about 45 – 60 minutes until top is golden. Allow to rest for ten minutes before serving.

The creamy soft noodles and the salty ham is so yummy together. And if you chop the ham up in small enough pieces you often get a crunchy piece from the top that is a lot like BACON! Yum.




A Pan Full of Deliciousness

I kind of feel like I’m always running to the store and looking for ‘what’s on sale’ in the flyers when planning my menus. And then I realize, “I already have a bag of onions, a bag of sweet potatoes, a bulb of garlic in the pantry, … oh …. and five chickens, 9 pounds of ground meat, a dozen packages of hot dogs and 5 bags of frozen broccoli in the freezer. Why do I keep buying food??” So tonight I used leftover rice, a pound of ground turkey and some pantry veggies and created a pan full of deliciousness. I don’t even know what to call it. Goulash? Hash? Or do I just call it what it is?


Sweet potatoes, ground turkey, rice, and broccoli roasted… in a pan… No. That’s boring. I think I’ll call it A Pan Full of Deliciousness.

pan full of deliciousness

pan full of deliciousness

You need to be able to brown on the stove top and then put the pan in the oven to finish roasting so consider using an oven safe pan or wrapping the handle (if it’s plastic or rubber) with aluminum foil to protect it.

This is all you do. The idea is to allow each item to cook a bit in the pan as you are chopping the next ingredient. So while you are chopping the onion the turkey is browning. While you are chopping the potato the onion is softening. So don’t try to prep all these ingredients and toss them all in. This is a methodical but simple recipe.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Enter the following items into the largest pan you have, placed over medium heat …IN THIS ORDER….

1 tsp olive oil

1 pound ground turkey

3 small cloves crushed garlic

1 small sweet onion or half a vidalia onion finely diced

1/2 tsp salt

12-15 cranks cracked black pepper

one medium diced sweet potato

1 tsp dried thyme leaves crushed between palms to release fragrance

pinch of cayenne pepper

1 tbsp worcestershire sauce (3-5 heavy splashes)

1 Cup (or so) frozen broccoli florets

sprinkle broccoli with some more salt, just a sprinkle

toss well and then flatten into the pan so the bottom layer gets all toasty on the stove and then once entered into the oven the top gets roasty and toasty, too.

Place in oven for ten minutes, uncovered. Stir and flatten ingredients again. Roast again, ten more minutes.

Now add 3/4 cup to 1 cup of leftover rice, if you have it. If not, leave it out. I had it so I added it.

Heat through until you are satisfied with the roasty toasty deliciousness. Then stuff yo’ face.

Sweet & Tangy Roasted Veggies & Pork Chops

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Do it. Now. You won’t be sorry.

Sweet and tangy pork chops and veggies!

Sweet and tangy pork chops and veggies!


2 thick cut pork chops – I did boneless but you can do bone-in. My chops were over an inch thick. If yours are thinner, lessen your cook time!!

sprinkle salt on both sides and sear in hot cast iron skillet with preheated vegetable oil. Once lightly browned on both sides,  turn off heat.

Mix together the following:

1/3 C Catalina dressing

3/4 C cranberry relish (I had my own leftover homemade relish from Thanksgiving so used it here)

and drizzle over the chops.

Add thinly sliced sweet onion (one small onion) and thinly sliced sweet potato (one medium potato) over the chops and sauce.

sear off the chops and add sauce, veggies, bacon lardons and place in oven.

sear off the chops and add sauce, veggies, bacon lardons and place in oven.

Place 4 slices of raw bacon (sliced into small chunks) over the onions and potatoes. I did NOT do this in this original recipe but often add raw bacon to my veggies when roasting them and after I was finished with this meal, the hubs and I decided it was too sweet and needed some more salt and richness. So bacon should be added. Just trust me. Just like when you turned the oven on. Add the bacon. Do it.

Place skillet directly in oven for 20 minutes on the bottom shelf at 375 degrees F.

Once the timer went off I added previously roasted brussels sprouts just because I had them.

I added brussels sprouts after twenty minutes just to add some color and rich flavor.

I added brussels sprouts after twenty minutes just to add some color and rich flavor.

Move the skillet to the top shelf and up the temp to 425F for 20 more minutes.

Internal temperature of chops should be 150F and can be removed from the oven to rest in the skillet for about 15 minutes. Slice thinly and serve with the veggies and sauce atop the chops.

This meal was impressive and will wow your guests.

finished! Toss veggies and sauce with pork chops and allow to rest in skillet for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

finished! Toss veggies and sauce with pork chops and allow to rest in skillet for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.